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Japanese GP: Friday Press Conference Part 2


Hasegawa-san, if we could start with you please. It's been a good couple of races for McLaren-Honda, particularly Stoffel Vandoorne, seventh in both of the last two races. Just wondering how much satisfaction have those results given you and how confident are you of another good result on home turf this weekend?

Yusuke Hasegawa: Obviously in Singapore and Malaysia we got points which were very good but of course we are not satisfied. We are aiming higher all the time but we feel kind-of relieved to get a decent step. So, of course we try to keep the same performance for here, in Suzuka.

What can you hope for this weekend?
YH: So far, that we get some points.

And with regard to next year, let's just talk a little bit about the relationship with Toro Rosso. How do you think that relationship might differ to the one that you've had with McLaren?
YH: I don't think it's a huge difference. We have already started the preparation for next year. They are very kind and they are very excited to have a new partnership, which we, of course, are feeling the same thing. No, there's not a big difference, just a new partner.

Is the commercial relationship going to be the same as it was with McLaren?
YH: Of course, the McLaren-Honda, the name of the McLaren-Honda is very famous - in Japan at least, maybe in other countries. From that point of view it could be that the expectation from the audience is a bit less, so we need to show that we can make it better. From that point of view, maybe I will feel a bit less pressure from the outside but from the inside there is no difference. We need to prove that we can do a better job for next year.

Ayao, second season of the Haas Formula One team, what is your perspective on how it's gone? How would you sum up the last 18 months with Haas? How's it gone?
Ayao Komatsu: It's going well. Of course it could be better but from last year to this year we made a very big improvement and even though it may not be obvious to everyone but consistency is better than last year and our understanding is better, but I think now that we made a step from last year we now know again how much we need to improve for next year so really concentrating on the next step.

Now you've worked with Romain for a long time, drivers like to progress every year, just how have you seen him grow in a small team like that, because we hear him a lot on the radio and it's not always complimentary?
AK: Sure, I know Romain since 2009. I've done every single race he's done in Formula One together so we understand each other pretty well, but yeah, he's quite an emotional guy but then what comes out as negative on the radio is what actually makes him quick as well so you can't have it both ways. We both understand the downside of that so we've just got to manage it, try to channel it in the right way so that everybody works in a positive direction.

Now I guess this is the time of year when you work through the good points and the bad points of the current car. You obviously want to translate the good points into next year. Could you elaborate a little bit on the good and the bad of the VF17?
AK: I think our baseline is pretty good but the operating window is not very wide, so when we can get the tyres to work OK, you can see the potential, we can be in Q3 but there are some events where we really cannot switch the tyres on then we are fighting to get out of Q1. In Malaysia, Saturday was our lowest point, both cars out in Q1 so that's the bad point. Next year, we really need to keep this good base but then trying to have the wider window so that we can work with... obviously next year you can have more different compounds as well so that will be the key, trying to work with different compounds, trying to get consistency out of it.

Paddy, let's start by talking about drivers: there's a lot of speculation in the press about who is going to partner Lance Stroll in the team next year. Can you just tell us a little bit about what you want from that driver and indeed, who is in the running?
Paddy Lowe: It seems like we're one of the last chairs available for next year. Of course Felipe is very much in the frame, very very high on our list of possibilities but we owe it to ourselves to take a look around and see what could be the best option for the team going forwards. As you say, that will be a partner to Lance. Lance has made great progress through the year, we're seeing him performing consistently, particularly in the races so we need a driver to complement Lance on that side of the garage. But all options are under consideration, to be honest. You've probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we're looking at but honestly the range is almost unlimited. We will consider all ideas. We're not in a super hurry to do so and we'll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.

But is the idea to have an experienced driver alongside Lance?
PL: I think there are many attributes you could attach to different drivers and experience could be one of them, but we may weigh that against other things. We're not fixed on any particular aspect.

Because where is Williams's natural habitat in this pit lane at the moment? You're lying fifth in the Constructors' championship; are you looking for a driver who can help leapfrog you up to third? Is that the ambition for next season?
PL: Yeah, we're always ambitious to move forwards as all teams are and I think we recognise that the driver or drivers are a very key element in the team. Clearly you need a quick car as well, but the driver is probably the single most important factor in the end to take the package forward and score the points and indeed win races. I've seen that in the past, what a difference drivers can make to the race proposition, so it's a very important decision.

And just tell us a little bit about next year's car, what's going on back in Grove? Are you encouraged by the signs you're seeing in the windtunnel, for example?
PL: Lots of good work going on. Yeah, we're making quite a few changes. We see lots of opportunities out there that we're determined to exploit and the project's going well, yeah. At the same time, you know, we recognise we've got some very tough competition out there, some teams that we respect greatly who are also fighting to move forward so it's going to be a tough space next year. We all want to have cars that can get safely into Q3, that's a kind of mark of respectability really in Formula One, but there are quite a few teams that will be trying to squeeze into that quite small box.

Questions From The Floor

(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) Hasegawa-san, you've just heard what Paddy said, that the driver is a crucial element in the overall package. With McLaren, you had various World Champions driving for you. With Toro Rosso, although they haven't confirmed their line-up, the chances of them having a Grand Prix winner let alone a World Champion are fairly remote at this stage. Do you believe that a driver is not important to drive a project forward, at the state that Honda finds itself in at the moment?
YH: For the next year, you mean? Of course the driver project is very important and of course we'd like to encourage the Japanese motor racing character we well so that to do that a Japanese driver is also very important. But currently we have nothing we can tell you about the drivers for Toro Rosso and we don't have any contract about that. Actually, we don't have any position to tell. Of course, we may negotiate with them so maybe we would like to discuss about that but it is not a contract matter, so that maybe they are just as a partner, as a friendship matter.

(Dan Knutson - Auto Action and Speedsport) Paddy, there have been reports that you were going to test Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta in a 2014 car. Can you enlighten us as to what is going to happen?
PL: Yeah, you're correct, we will test those two drivers. We won't give away any information around what we do within those tests, that's a private matter for us and I would stress that that doesn't mean that they're the only drivers under consideration. As I said earlier, we're considering quite a large range of which they are only two possibilities.

(Dan Knutson - Auto Action and Speedsport) Paddy, can you at least tell us when this test will happen?
PL: In the next few weeks.

(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines) Hasegawa-san, I'd like to just clarify my question earlier on about the fact that it wasn't so much aimed at Japanese drivers, but just generally whether you believe or not that a proven or an established driver line-up is important to develop your Honda engine project going forward because you had had World Champions, whereas at Toro Rosso you are unlikely to even have a Grand Prix winner. Do you believe that an established driver line-up is important?
YH: Yeah, sorry, I don't answer the question. Yep, of course, the driver's feedback is very important to evaluate the engine itself and to find any issue from the engine and also to stop the engine as soon as something happens. From that point of view, Fernando, Jenson and Stoffel were perfect for that development driver and evaluator so yeah, it is very important. So far, as I mentioned, we cannot tell (about next year). I am very happy to have Pierre Gasly, he is a very talented driver, but actually I didn't work with him directly but I expect him very much. So I don't know for next year but we expect to have good drivers, of course.


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